Monday, October 31, 2005

Uh oh, Stew's being let loose on the decks...

That's right, I'm DJ-ing between bands at Glasgow's rowdiest indie night on Friday. What have they let themselves in for?

Monday, October 24, 2005

A few whiskers...

Sorry for the lack of updates folks. It's been a crazy few weeks what with all my working and gig going. In the past fornight I've seen Mogwai, Trout and Arab Strap at Mono's wonderful John Peel Night, the astonishing Deerhoof, Animal Collective*, the amazing Afrirampo and Belle & Sebastian (more on whom later) not to mention the Instal festival. Phew! Half written reviews of some of those are in my notebook, but I'll hold on to them until the next issue if that's alright. We're looking at end of Nov for the launch of Beard 5. It'll be worth the wait, with a double whammy of legends...

In the meantime I'll endeavour to bring you the odd review, ramble, interesting link and Beard news.

First up, I'm going to be a guest DJ at Pinup Nights at the Woodside Social, Glasgow on Friday November 4. I'll also have a wee article in the Pinups zine that gets handed out on the night as well. More info as it comes.

Here's an interview I did for Ideas Factory with Gaelic singer and actress Alyth McCormack on the challenges of performing in different languages.

Beard #4 has received a nice review on Live Journal. Hurrah! Scroll down to Oct 4 for the skinny, as they say.

Current listening: Yesterday's Freakzone on BBC6music. It's their Harvest festival, celebrating the great psych/prog/folk/artrock/punk imprint. We've had Shirley and Dolly Collins, Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd (Meddle, nice), Kevin Ayers, Wire, The Saints and, a new discovery for me, Edgar Broughton Band. They're nuts, like a daft hard rock version of Comets On Fire. Me likes. Any more information on these dudes would be most welcome. *Update. Just heard Sadistic Micah Band, a Japanese combo feted by Bowie and Roxy apparently. Ace female fronted noisy Japanese glam pop. Wow!

Ok, that's all for now folks.

*Thanks to Susie for the Animal Collective pics.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Franz on demand!

Not posting for a month hasn't improved my puns any, has it? As promised, here are my thoughts on the new Franz.

Franz Ferdinand
You Can Have It So Much Better


Alex Kapranos’s eyes glint as he tilts his head back and flashes those vampiric fangs. There’s something of the night about him. All he’s missing is the cape.

That mischievous, amoral persona is all over You Could Have It So Much Better. Check those titles: The Fallen, Evil And A Heathen, I’m Your Villain! “Your famous friend, well I blew him before ya,” he purrs in Do You Want To?

Franz’s second album opens with a killer hat-trick. The Fallen opens with a lightly frazzled synth drone over which guitars and drums break out with the muscular swing of a bantam weight boxer. The song reaches its climax in a dense cacophony of layered and echoed vocals and messy garage guitar. Super fantastich!

You’ll know Do You Want To? of course, the shameless tart of a lead off single. It’s as perfect a pop moment as any this year, jam packed with hooks and arch humour. Can you imagine any of their imitators throwing themselves so gleefully into the fabulously tacky “doo doo doo” refrain? Rather than whinge about the superficiality of fame, Franz head straight for champers and lachsfisch and have a ball. “Your famous friend, well I blew him before ya,” winks Kapranos, licking his vampiric fangs.

Galloping drums and a swashbuckling guitar announce the start of This Boy. A deadpan “yeah” and the band switch to a jagged swagger, Kapranos’s distorted falsetto vocals adding a sleazy, creepy edge to it all.

There’s a change of tack after this with the Sparks go Merseybeat balladry of Walk Away. Any song with that title raises the spectre of Cast’s unfathomably banal plodfest, but happily Franz’s effort is a classier affair, its rinky dink air of sophistication and melancholy conjuring images of Sofia Loren or Steve McQueen skiing in the Alps, decadent ballrooms and diamond necklaces. It’s not quite as tender as the music would suggest however – Kapranos seems to relish leaving someone behind.

It’s only on Eleanor Put Your Boots On that Kapranos lets his Dr Hyde mask slip and reveals his heart. “Climb to the statue with your dictionary,” Kapranos urges of his brainiac amour. With wobbly tremolo guitar and a Beatley piano part that sounds as if it was recorded in the back of small town hall it’s really rather lovely.

The rest of the album is enjoyable, but only ‘I’m Your Villain’ really stands out. You can hear the band having real fun with their three songs in one formula here. It begins with a stand-off on the dancefloor before racing into a Pulp rave up, winding up with a fantastically cheesy coda that take Status Quo down to the disco.

So this might not be the white crunk masterpiece of Kanye West’s dreams, it’s not radically different to their debut, but frankly my chickadee, I couldn’t give a fuck. I’m having too much fun.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Wot? No posts for a month? I know, I know...but I do have a day job now y'know. I'm on the individual learning accounts helpline for the time being. And today I had an interview at the Metro for a listing job. Fingers crossed.
So September flew by in a whirlwind of work, gigs and journalistic unproductivity. Fear not, for Beard shall return soon, complete with some marvellous interviews and a new look.

I shall update this thread later this evening with some thoughts on the new Franz Ferdinand LP.

In the meantime I wish to say that Balls of Steel is quite possibly the worst tv programme ever made. It's jaw-droppingly, brain-meltingly witless and vile. Sitting at home with a cold on Friday night I caught the beginning and like a rubber necker I could barely take my eyes of the whole ghastly spectacle. This is the nadir of the prank show, Candid Camera with all the invention and playful oddness siphoned out, its brains replaced with lager and curry flavoured puke. Basically some annoying media cunts find ordinary punters or celebs and act like, well, cunts towards them, thus proving they have Balls Of Steel. One of the cunts' schtick is to rummage in her handbag while telling a z-list celeb she has a present for him before lifting her hand out, middle finger raised. "You're a horrible woman" says David Furnish with some justification. Pissed up lads just back from the pub guffaw. At least that's the idea. Why oh why must Channel 4 show this crud? It makes The Girly Show look witty amd sophisticated. Yes, it's that bad.